Musings of an almost not-bride

Guest post by mcgilllilnancy
You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be.

I won't be an Offbeat Bride soon. In fact, I won't be any kind of bride, because in a month I'll be married. And for some reason, that's making me sad. I don't want to get into the whole “you should be planning for the marriage not the wedding!” or the politics of wedding vs. marital energy/time/money expenditure. I get that, I assure you. I want to acknowledge what an important and huge part of my life and identity being a bride and having a wedding has been for me, and I'm sure for you too. I want to share this journey, and who I am and have become.

I wasn't sure how to do this wedding shit. I'm a genderqueer (and very uptight about that sort of thing, thank you) person with a male partner and when we decided to get married it was, well, different. We've been together for four years and I knew a legal license was never in the cards for me because of political beliefs. However, we felt this meant it was all the MORE important for us to symbolize our commitment to each other in some other way. Plus, seriously, my parents were willing to give me like $10,000 to have a kick-ass party. I'll be goddamned if i'm ever too politically serious to take $10,000 to throw a party, and then get a bunch of gifts. Selfish, perhaps, but true.

I'm not a bride. I'm not even sure I'm a GIRL! Can non-girls be brides? Can they have weddings, with MALE partners nonetheless? I went through all that and the usual angst of this-is-not-what-i-wanted when I dipped my finger in the wedding pool. And then, I found Offbeat Bride. Oh, heart-song! I became wedding obsessed. It wasn't a we-ee-ee-dding — it was a party! It was a bash! A family gathering! A woodland festival! It was whatever I wanted it to be and I gasped and drank in every bride's profile. I credit Offbeat Bride with helping me keep sane during the first semester of my PhD studies this fall. I got ideas, I tossed ideas, I bridal bitched, I gave offbeat advice. Sisters, I was IN the thing.

Then life got busy and the wedding backed off. Dealing with the wedding became more about save-the-date deadlines and family squibbles about some relative (though graciously, my family and in-laws have been much, much better than some). My PhD work amped up, I needed to do clinical hours, and while I still checked the latest bride profiles every day, I stopped contributing much to the Offbeat Bride Tribe and, once all the big pieces were in place, I stopped really planning the wedding much. It plugged along, and so did I.

Now that we are days, mere days, away from the wedding, I cannot help but feel a strange tension. As a friend of mine told me I was the “most intense bride” she'd ever seen, traditional or otherwise, and I wasn't quite sure if I was insulted or proud. My wedding IS intense. I'm going to rent a chainsaw in a few hours to make a project for it. It's a living, breathing entity that has grown out from me and is me. My wedding is a part of who I am, and being a bride is part of who I am now, and both of those are about to go away. Forever.

I think this is the dark side, or the reverse pay off for having a wedding that is uniquely tailored to who you are, DIYed by you and, let's just say it, birthed out of your amazing brain creativity goddess. I've done a lot for my wedding (“I” being me and my partner, I'm just being selfish). I've written and designed the entire ceremony, hand made countless items, created unique seating arrangements, filled everything with beautiful little details that are JUST. SO. US.

So why do I feel so sad?

Why, when I see ads for veils, or new ideas on Offbeat Bride, do I get the pang that those fields are closed to me now and my choices (beloved and perfect choices) have been made and are following an inevitable hurtle towards the finish line? Why do I feel a strange sense of mourning, of loss for this thing I have created, when it hasn't even come to be yet? Why does one of the happiest, and most anticipated events of my life, make me cry just to talk about it.

In some ways, a wedding is a lot like a book, or film. You get all these ideas, shop around for the perfect people, places, and things to fulfill what matches in your head, write it, design it, edit it, comfort it in it's birth pains, scream at it in hatred sometimes and eventually, you finish it. But unlike a book or a film, a wedding doesn't hang around in the ether forever (at least, not for most of us). There are pictures, videos, and memories but really, it was a one shot deal, like a shooting star, and now it's over. And it hurts. It hurts to have something that you poured your soul into, your very human spirit, which is to say your fundamental desire to create, finished. Don't get me wrong — I LOVE my wedding! I can't wait for my wedding, I can't wait to be married to my mate, and I think all of it will be wonderful. But in some ways too, it will be painful for me in ways that I can already feel, like the itch of a limb that's gone missing.

I find myself in some ways wishing I'd been MORE of a bride, treasured and licked up every moment of planning that I'll never have again. When will I ever have an enormous (hello, we're a grad student and unemployment so $10,000 = ridiculous, unheard of, outrageous sum of money) budget to just do with whatever I feel like? And everyone will acknowledge that I can do this, it's my day, and isn't this all terrific for you? And I get access to an amazing community of like minded sisters? It's a lot to give up in just one day. In some ways I'll be glad. In some ways, grieving. I'll be a happily married person, but perhaps a cautiously nostalgic bride.

Isn't it nice that our sister site Offbeat Home & Life exists, to fill the hole Offbeat Bride leaves behind?

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Comments on Musings of an almost not-bride

  1. I feel this same way! I know all of this anticipation and planning and thinking is bound to end in what will be the most fabulous and anticlimactic experience of my life. It will be all over, just like that!

    After devoting everything I am to one thing that will be for such a small flash of my life, what comes next? I think I am going to understand what my mom went through with her empty nest syndrome. 🙂

  2. I feel the same way, but to keep myself sane, I am telling myself that we can get re-married every 10 years or so and I can have all that fun planning all over again. And there will be babies to plan for in the meantime.

    Also, I love helping other people plan and execute their parties, and I have quite a few girlfriends who aren’t married yet!

  3. Beautifully, accurately written. Thank you. I completely agree… especially with the bit about the fallout of having a wedding tailored specifically to oneself and one’s partner.

  4. I’m reading The Conscious Bride at the moment. If you’re three weeks out, you might not have time to check it out, but if you’re further away, it’s an awesome book. It was recommended to me by somebody else in the OBT, and it’s been really helpful in dealing with all the transitions inherent in getting married.

  5. I’ve never seen it written so concisely but you are so accurate. This is very much how I felt and actually after the wedding I felt worse again because all of it was over. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was no longer involved in planning, in lavish ideas and all that adrenaline to do with anticipation was gone.

    Funnily enough, I felt it again after I went home with my first baby. I think sometimes we build up these things so far that it’s a long way back down to reality and the day-to-day grind.

    • I feel like we do that with everything though. Graduations and babies and promotions and Firsts and Lasts and Goals and… I guess just viewing a wedding as one of those life moments in a sea of lifetime moments makes it easier to handle. I’ve had that “Now What?” moment after everything from finishing a deep cleaning task to a big school project to a hard-fought-for college graduation to breakups to a cross-country move. There is grief & relief, fear & excitement, tears & beers. The moment to breathe after a big change or huge accomplishment is awesome, and then we set our sights on the next thing and keep going.

  6. So well written!!! I felt the same way when i bought a house, like after we bought one I was lost. What websites to I look at, what shows do I watch on TV? all of them changed, their was no need to log on to remax first thing every morning!

    I bet as I get more into the wedding planning process I will feel the same way. Congrats on your wedding, enjoy!

  7. you can always have kickass anniversary parties every 10 years! my parents did that, followed by “honeymoons”.

    as an added bonus, an anniversary party is all the fun of a wedding without the drama. you don’t need to worry about whether or not to invite Great Aunt Barbara because there are fewer expectations and traditions to ditch!

  8. there’s a way that having a wedding is also just about planning and executing this huge party/work of art — only somehow even more personal and intense. i will say that i was hugely surprised by my wedding in ways i could have never anticipated. and the biggest surprise was how all that time and energy made for a really intense community experience — so full of love and happiness — that it’s still something everyone talks about. and if there are enough of us who were there all in one place it’s like — it almost becomes like a reunion. i hope you get to experience something similar!

  9. It’s kind of the day-after-Christmas letdown. Even though I think most of us are not after The.Perfect.Wedding. (whatever that is) – so much time and thought is taken up with planning and executing the entire event that it does become like an obsession…

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